J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thinking Blogger: not a contradiction in terms?

My first meme! Apparently that’s blogger talk for “chain letter I actually welcome since it gives me something to write about.” Three days ago Ilker Yoldas created this graphic for what he called “Blogs That Make Me Think,” and yesterday Prof. David Parker at Another History Blog honored Boston 1775 with that label. So now it’s up to me, if I choose to accept this mission, to name five blogs that truly deserve the honor.

So I decided to define my criteria.

I considered blogs that have repeatedly caught me up short as they showed me someone else’s thinking or made me rethink my own opinions. And five that came to mind are...

Civil War Memory by Kevin M. Levin goes deep into our Civil War, not just the one fought in the U.S. of A. from 1861 to 1865 but also the one fought in our culture for the ensuing century and a half.

Monica Edinger is a teacher at a private elementary school in New York, teaching both history and literature. Her Educating Alice ranges over a variety of pedagogical and critical challenges.

Michael Quinion’s World Wide Words predates the blog era, and most people would probably identify it as an online newsletter with a web archive. Treat the website as a blog that sees all its postings about English words and phrases, old and new, once every seven days, and you won’t be disappointed.

Drawer Geeks, hosted by Greg Hardin, invites artists to reimagine a different American icon weekly; the variety of results makes me see those figures in new ways. Each picture is worth a thousand words, after all. (BlueSky Studios Challenge is a similar weekly challenge for the animation artists at Blue Sky Studios.)

Finally, Walking the Berkshires by Tim Abbott is an informed personal study of environment, history, and family from the other side of this state—sharp, quirky, and occasionally nettlesome.


Another History Blog said...

Great choices, J.L.! I knew Civil War Memory and Walking the Berkshires; thanks for bringing the other three to my attention.

You probably don't know this-- but you and I are probably the only people who have posted on both H-South and the various Oz lists.

Keep up the good work!

J. L. Bell said...

So you're the David Parker who published the fine analysis of the Oz as Populism theory! And the theosophical connection that was fascinating news to me.

Thanks for your praise for Boston 1775. I very even more honored now.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the award!!


Anonymous said...

CivilWarMemory is basically garbage. I did a frequency count of anti-southern posts by month and found that about 50% of the posts were indeed anti-southern. There were no negative northern posts. Take it for what it is - propaganda.

J. L. Bell said...

You haven't defined what you mean by "anti-southern," and you haven't identified yourself so we can assay your perspective and judgment.

I continue to recommend Civil War Memory, and I continue to regret anonymous attacks on it. They seem impolite and cowardly.

J. L. Bell said...

The anonymous poster above has now identified himself to me as Jim. That was not a surprise since Jim/Anonymous has posted the same criticism about Civil War Memory on many other blogs over the past several months, in language that ranged from accusatory to personally insulting.

The factual content of those complaints has been slim. In the complaint on this page, sent in on 31 Aug 2007, Jim claimed, “There were no negative northern posts” in Civil War Memory.

On 20 Aug 2007, however, Jim posted the following to Civil War Memory itself:

“I've taken every opportunity to warn readers of your anti-southern bias, but now realize that this has been unfair to you. . . . I even went back through your blog and found a number of posts on race in the North.

“Please except [sic] my apologies.”

Obviously, Jim's complaint on this page is a direct contradiction of his own statement.

It’s clear that this person’s comments are not based on fact or on rational thinking. No more of them will appear on this blog.